Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday's great-grandfather was a heretic

Hello girls! It's Monday!

Carlyn - I am sorry for your puffy hair, but less sorry than I would be if you had continued to read The Book Thief. And don't try to pull the "Oh, I'm in grad school and I have so much work to do" line -- because it'll probably work. :)

Christina - Isn't it great to be a regular? The closest I've come to being a regular is at Ben Franklin's. I actually had one of the workers there ask me the other day how my show went last month, so that was nice.

On to the topic of the week!

So, as I said yesterday, and as I've mentioned before, my mother does a lot of genealogy, so much so that she has basically run out of her own family members, and my dad's family members, and so has started doing research on my uncle's family, an uncle related entirely by marriage.When my great-aunt was alive, Mom would drive up to see her at least once a month, both to check in and to get Aunt Muriel talking because she was the last of her generation, and so a generation's worth of stories would die with her.

So my mother is, in many ways, a collector of stories, and she's passed a lot of those stories down. Now, I could take this time to tell classic stories from my own childhood, such as the time I flooded my grandparents' bathroom with my cousin or the time I colored on the walls of a rented cabin with my cousin (actually, many of the most interesting stories from my childhood end with the phrase "with my cousin" -- and there's a reason), but rather than dwell on the embarrassing moments from when I was young, I think I'd rather share some tales of generations past.

To that end, I have two stories for you. One, the story of how my paternal grandparents met and married, and two, the story of how my maternal great-grandfather was a heretic.

Story one:

My paternal grandparents are 90 and 87 and have been married for 64 years, first of all. They are adorable and spry and like few 90 year olds you will meet. For example, for my grandmother's 90th birthday earlier this year, they took a cruise down the Danube River. Yes, that's in Europe. And my grandmother didn't want a lot of people to know because she felt it was extravagant.

But anyway, they've been married for 64 years and have 5 kids and 10 grandkids, and this past Christmas, we were told in wonderful detail the story of how they met.

They met in a Sunday school class in Indiana. My grandfather was in college post-WWII and my grandmother was working in a library in Fort Wayne. The class was about to begin when a member of the church brought a new student to the class last minute, a young lady named Emily, and to quote my grandfather, "she was a vision." She wore a bright yellow dress and white gloves, and it's the gloves that are the focal point of the story.

Grandpa was captivated, and for the next three weeks, he waited and waited for her return each Sunday to Sunday school, hoping that this week, the gloves would come off so he could see her bare hands. You see, he wanted to know whether or not he had a chance with her. But the gloves never came off, and so finally, he had to resort to tracking her down at the library where she worked during the week, where he could finally see that there was no ring. He immediately asked her out on a date.

Their first date was on August 3. On September 6, he proposed. And the next June, they were married. It's the kind of old-fashioned love story that makes me prematurely nostalgic.

Story Two:

This is one of my favorite family stories of all time, but I have to be careful the company I share it in, because many people would not find it funny.

When my great-grandfather on my mother's side was growing up, the Catholic priests would come to the town square periodically to do public baptisms. When they started to run low on holy water, they would pay the local boys a penny to run back to the church and fetch more. My great-grandfather was one of those boys.

Except that he very rarely felt like running all the way back to the church. So he would take the penny and the container, run back to his home, which was closer, and fill the container up with tap water and take that back to the priests.

Side note: I love hearing my mother the minister tell that story and laugh.

So those are two of my favorite family stories. What are yours?

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